December 10, 2019
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Attorney: Wiscasset illegally barred public from ballot count

Abigail W. Adams | Lincoln County News
Abigail W. Adams | Lincoln County News
Warden Susan Blagden reads the results of Wiscasset’s annual town meeting by referendum on Tuesday.

WISCASSET, Maine — An attorney contacted by the town of Wiscasset said Wednesday that an election warden illegally kept reporters and residents away from a ballot count on Tuesday.

He has recommended the same warden announce within 24 hours that the ballots will be recounted in public.

Residents and newspaper reporters gathered at the Wiscasset Community Center on Tuesday evening for the count, but when polls closed, they were not granted access to the count.

“The warden/moderator and an election clerk removed everyone from the room, closed the doors and proceeded for three hours to process the election results behind closed doors,” Wiscasset Town Manager Marian Anderson wrote in an email to the Maine Municipal Association, asking if the count was legal.

Anderson said Susan Blagden was the warden on Tuesday. She did not have the name of the election clerk.

Richard P. Flewelling, assistant director of the legal services department at Maine Municipal Association, replied shortly after that Maine statute “unequivocally requires that ballots be counted publicly.”

“In light of the statute, in view of the closed-door count last night, and in the interest of public transparency, I recommend that the warden/moderator of [Tuesday’s] election, on his or her own initiative and as soon as possible (ideally within 24 hours after the polls were closed), announce that the ballots will be counted again, in public, as required by law,” Flewelling wrote.

He suggested the recount be publicized, and that a special effort be made to notify those excluded on Tuesday.

Anderson said Wednesday afternoon that she had forwarded Flewelling’s email to Blagden, but had not yet heard from her.

Watch bangordailynews.com for updates.

 



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